By Emmanuel Côme Mugisha
Zipline technician, Edison Niyomurinzi, explains to a journalist the process of how drones supply blood to hospitals. Rwanda is keen on securing investments for its proposed drone operations centre to host, among others, drone manufacturing and training. / Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.
Rwanda has begun the search for investors in its proposed drone operation centre, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation has said.
The development comes as the country steps up efforts to become a regional tech hub and drive economic recovery.
The multipurpose project announced early this year is valued at Rwf6.2 billion, ministry officials told The New Times
Construction of the centre, initially due to commence with the current fiscal year, was delayed as scarcity of funding persisted.
“We are (now) soliciting for funds and investors who can tap into this opportunity and start construction of the centre,” said Angelos Munezero, the Acting Director of Innovation and Business Development at the Ministry.
The centre will host drone manufacturing, testing and operation training.
Zipline pilot droneport in Kayonza District. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.
“Activities that are not easily performed today with the current regulations will be performed in that safe and secured environment,” Munezero said.
Although local drones companies have not yet expressed interest in patterning in the project, the official said they are welcome aboard.
Charis UAV and Zipline, two major local actors in the drone space have made over 75,000 flights combined.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have crafted an international impression because of their first-line use to supply medicines, spread Covid-19 awareness messages and disperse antimalarial spray.
The centre will occupy up to 29 hectares in Huye District, Southern Province.
Upon completion, it is expected to accommodate at least 500 trainees per intake.
Over the past decade, Rwanda has committed to upping its stride into becoming a regional technology and innovation hub. On a UAV note, the government has provided a site and funding for a pilot droneport.
Designed by the Norman Foster Foundation, the port will be part of a pan-African droneport network.
Beyond allowing for safe landing of drones, the facility will host a health clinic, a digital fabrication shop, a post and courier room, as well as an e-commerce trading hub.
It is also intended to provide space for the public and training in robotics.